Sometimes I want to pray for someone, but I don’t know what to pray.  When an ambulance passes me on the street I want to pray for the person they are rushing to help, but I don’t know the details.  The evening news often leaves me with a strong desire to pray for the world and for individuals living out stories of crisis and pain.  Occasionally, a friend or family member will pop into my head and I will feel a strong need to pray for that person, even though I have no idea what is happening to them right now.  Often in the Congregational Care office I see someone who is sad, or worried, or hurting.  I usually don’t know the story, but the need for prayer is written on their faces, and audible in their voices.

There is an ancient Celtic prayer that is perfect for those situations where you want to pray for someone, but you don’t know what specifically to ask.  It is called Caim, or encircling prayer.  To pray the Caim prayer, picture the person or persons in your mind who you want to encircle in prayer. Then, in your minds eye, draw a circle around that person. Then pray this prayer:

Circle (name or description of person), Lord.
Keep comfort near and discouragement far.
Keep peace within and turmoil out.

Circle (name), Lord.
Keep protection near and danger far.

Circle (name), Lord.
Keep hope within, keep despair without.

Circle (name), Lord.
Keep light near, and darkness afar.

Circle (name), Lord.
Keep peace within and anxiety without.

The eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit
shield (name) on every side. Amen.

In this prayer you are asking God to surround this person, and for them to be aware of God’s presence and unending love and care. You can’t get much better than that.